posted on February 02, 2014 09:27
By Mike Handley
Imagine the patience required NOT to go to the very place you believe the buck of your dreams, the one you've skewered, has taken its last breath. Imagine setting an arbitrary 24-hour, chill-out period on the off-chance your chip shot wasn't as lethal as it should've been.
Then imagine logging into Facebook and seeing someone else's smiling face behind YOUR buck.
Mike McCabe doesn't have to imagine these things. He lived this up-and-down tale, literally UP and DOWN, last fall. But at least the paraplegic from Eaton, Ohio, finally got the buck that took him 105 sits to find in his peep sight.
He'd nicknamed this deer Stickers. It was one of two shooters his trail cameras photographed in 2012. He saw both that year, too, but one had broken off most of one of its beams, and Stickers never gave him an opportunity.
When Stickers began passing in front of trail cameras in 2013, Mike was astounded at how much more antler the deer had gained. He waited until the camera yielded daytime photos of the buck before he went after it.
Completely paralyzed below his armpits following a treestand failure, Mike relies on friends and his own strength and inventiveness to return to the deer woods as often as possible. During his four-plus months in the hospital in 2008, determined not to let his setback rob him of the opportunity to hunt, he designed a stand and pulley-enhanced lift system so he can get from wheelchair to squirrel heights.
He doesn't use an electric winch; just pure manpower, using the mechanical advantage of ropes and pulleys. It is a process that takes at least 30 minutes each way, if all goes well.
On the day he chose to hunt Stickers' favorite Prebble County food plot, all did not go well. He made it aloft, but the bottom of the rope snagged under his chair. That meant his gear (everything except his bow and arrows, which were attached to a separate pull-up rope) was on the ground, and he couldn't get down without help.
It was a deer-filled afternoon, though, and Stickers stuck to the script.
After launching his arrow, Mike last saw the buck heading for the tract's large bedding area. He and his rescuer didn't take up the trail until the following morning, and they stopped when the blood stopped.
During the 24-hour wait to continue the search into the bedding area, Mike saw the Facebook post. He was in another stand at the time, loaded for doe.
"I was sick. My guts got knotted up," he told Ed Waite, who measured the deer for the BTR and is writing the story for Rack magazine.
Afterward, Mike had to negotiate with the man to whom the neighboring landowner had given the deer. But he eventually was able to legally claim and tag the buck with a composite score of 220 7/8 inches.